Taiwan: China warns voters, condemns the US ahead of Prez poll on Saturday
New Delhi: As Taiwan geared up for the Presidential election on Saturday, China warned voters to make the “right choice”, saying a win for the frontrunner William Lai could endanger relations of the self-ruled island nation with the mainland which claims it is it’s own.
China also criticized “brazen chattering” by the US after Washington warned Beijing not to stoke tensions ahead of the Taiwan vote, the media reported.
Taiwan has been a key flashpoint in the tussle between China and the US for supremacy in Asia.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Lai, if elected, would further promote separatist activities, the BBC reported.
“(He) would continue to follow the evil path of provoking ‘independence’ and… take Taiwan ever further away from peace and prosperity, and ever closer to war and decline,” it said.
William Lai, of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has called for voters to “choose the right path” to maintain Taiwan’s sovereignty. His main opponent, Hou Yu-ih of the Kuomintang (KMT), has called Lai a danger to relations with China.
According to reports, the DPP supporters at a Taipei rally on Thursday said most Taiwanese want to keep the status quo.
Many Taiwanese consider themselves independent of China, although most are in favor of maintaining the status quo where Taiwan neither declares independence from China nor unites with it.
The island sees itself as distinct from the mainland – but China’s government says it is a breakaway province that will, eventually, be part of the country and has not ruled out the use of force to achieve this.
Lai had been narrowly in front in the presidential race before campaigning stopped on January 2. Parliamentary elections are also being held.
China’s message to voters came as it told the US to stop commenting on the election.
The foreign ministry in Beijing issued a sharp rebuke to Washington after the US said it would send an unofficial delegation to Taiwan after the vote.
The US government must “refrain from intervening in the elections… to avoid causing serious damage to US-China relations,” a Chinese spokesperson said.
China “expresses… resolute opposition to the American side’s brazen chattering about the elections in the Taiwan region.”
Beijing has said Taiwan’s voters face a choice between peace and war in the elections.
On Thursday Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu criticised China for its “repeated interference” in Saturday’s vote.
“Frankly, Beijing should stop messing with other countries’ elections & hold their own,” Wu posted on X, the social platform formerly known as Twitter.